Pushing back on the hype about cats, toxoplasmosis, and human mental illness

March 1, 2016

Did the wave of “your cat can make you crazy” news stories last year put a crimp in your shelter’s adoption and community cat/return-to-field programs? Peter Wolf of Best Friends Animal Society has good news for you.

In a recent post on his blog, Vox Felina, he wrote:

[A report in] Neuroskeptic, a new paper published in PLoS ONE suggests “that there may be nothing to worry about after all. [Its authors] report that toxoplasmosis is associated with essentially no behavioral abnormalities in humans.”


Duke University’s Karen Sugden and her co-authors report:

“Our results suggest that a positive test for T. gondii antibodies does not result in increased susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders, poor impulse control or impaired neurocognitive ability. Moreover, we found no association between seropositivity and aberrant personality functions.”

One explanation for their “null findings,” according to the authors: “earlier reports of links between T. gondii infection and behavioral impairments are exaggerated.”

We reached out to Wolf and asked him what he thought the impact of this new research would be for Million Cat Challenge animal shelters.

“The results of this study really challenge the ‘conventional wisdom’ about Toxoplasma gondii infection in humans, as the authors found very little evidence that the parasite causes mental illness or various cognitive impairments,” he told us. “This should be welcome news for shelters that have been reluctant to implement return-to-field programs out of concerns for public health.”

Read his complete post: Toxo “Hype Train” Running Out of Steam?

Share with:


No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Loading Facebook Comments ...